Music & Conversations in The Attic Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Music & Conversations in The Attic

December 6, 2020

Written by:

Dragoș Rusu

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The cultural project "Music & Conversations in the Attic" co-financed by AFCN in session I / 2020, in the area digital art and new media, is successfully completed.

The main editorial themes we explored throughout 2020 addressed topics such as the relationship between sound and the environment, the human and non-human world, the ecological aspects of ancient traditions, and cultural identity as seen through the lens of Romanian cultural heritage.

Throughout the year 2020, we successfully managed to create a vast network of independent writers and collaborators from various places around the world, and with their help, to publish a number of 34+ challenging articles, as well as producing 15 new episodes of our audio series of shows.

All content is available here and is divided into several sections: Spotlight (interviews, extensive reports), Destinations (articles exploring certain cultural areas or geographical regions), Perspectives, First Person (section dedicated to essays exploring concepts from a personal approach), Video (section dedicated to film and video recordings) and Audio (section dedicated to our own series of podcasts, mixtapes and audio recordings, each episode exploring a certain theme or concept).

The 34 published articles cover an extremely wide range of topics, perspectives and analyses. In case you've missed some of our stories, here's an overview of what happened in 2020 at The Attic. And follow the hyperlinks!

Spotlight

The Complex Case of Romanian Folklore in Pasolini's Oedipus Rex
The Complex Case of Romanian Folklore in Pasolini's Oedipus Rex
We start with an interview by London-based, Australian-born music journalist Jane Cornwell – "Ros Bandt and Vicki Hallett – Listening to the Barwon River in Australia" with two of Australia's best-known field recorders, Ros Bandt and Vicki Hallett, and their project Barwon Listening from Victoria, Australia, which interrogates place as an acoustic space in which sound, place, time and culture collide.

Romanian journalists Paul Breazu and Mihai Lukács make an analysis on the concept of "manelization" of Romania. Russian researcher Bulat Khalilov of Ored Recordings is investigating the cultural heritage of Irish folk through an interview with the Irish band Lankum. The concept of cultural heritage and cultural identity is also found within the material "A Sense of Identity" signed by the Romanian journalist Dragoș Rusu, a feature based on an interview with the Syrian musician Mohamad Zatari.

Romanian journalist Miron Ghiu talks about the sonic travels of the German musician Alva Noto, in an essay-interview with Carsten Nicolai. Dragoș Rusu presents a material based on an interview with Phillip Sollmann, a German musician who created a musical project based on bringing to the present day the various old musical concepts and instruments of the sound pioneers Hermann von Helmholtz, Harry Partch and Harry Bertoia.

London-based, Flemish-born journalist and musicologist Marithé Van der Aa speaks in an extensive article about free jazz and improvised music as an act of racial liberation. Romanian musician Andreea Tincea analyzes the concept of shamanism, seen as a resource in harmony and its sonic and musical implications. The writer and art curator Eugen Rădescu writes an analysis on queer identities, both from a historical point of view, and a placement in the contemporary, social and cultural space in Romania.

London-based, New Zeeland-born music journalist Garth Cartwright makes an introduction to Bosnian folk music (sevdalinka) in an interview with Sarajevo-based musician Damir Imamović. German composer Johannes Kreidler analyses the process of conceptual listening through the perspective of new music and the concept of listening versus hearing.

Romanian musician Cosmin Nicolae signs an article on Romanian folk music, which can be found on the soundtrack of the classic film Oedipus Rex directed by Pasolini. American author Andrew Choate signs an interview with Norwegian artist and field recordist Jana Winderen about her practice of making audio recordings in hard-to-reach environments. The Attic's co-founder Andrei Rusu reflects on taking classical music to face value.
Deflating History via Abandoned Pipe-Organs in Transylvania
Deflating History via Abandoned Pipe-Organs in Transylvania

Destinations

Ukrainian writer Ivan Shelekhov writes an extensive report on the contemporary Ukrainian music scene, with an emphasis on mostly underground and obscure manifestations. Bulat Khalilov explores the traditional Adyghe music of the Circassian people, part of the northwestern Caucasian ethnic groups, originally from Circassia, displaced by the Russian invasion in the 19th century.

Iranian artist, dancer and choreographer Masoumeh Jalalieh writes about the almost forgotten tradition of Iranian carpet weaving and its acquired significance within the contemporary artistic space. Vienna-based, Kurdish-born singer Sakina Teyna talks about the music of Kurdish women, following a forbidden language and analysing the tradition of oral expression known as dengbêjî, which is the basis of traditional Kurdish music and the only way to survive a language on the verge of extinction.

British-based, American-born writer David Katz analyses the reggae scene in São Luís, one of the most attractive and unusual cities in Brazil and also the place of an extremely unusual reggae music scene, which crosses the borders of race, class, age and sex, despite the obvious links with Jamaica.

The Austrian artist and composer Stefan Fraunberger carries out an investigation into the unique character of derelict pipe-organs in Transylvania’s abandoned fortress churches and the various transformations that human-built ritual machines undergo once left devoid of human presence.

There is one more long features in its final process of editing, which will be published within the next days: Claudiu Oancea analyses the concept of authenticity found in the artistic and cultural space of the Balkan countries, with a focus on rock music and manele in Romania.
Home and Music
Home and Music

First Person

We managed to publish a number of 13 essays written by different artists, musicologists, writers or people working in the field of sound.

In light of the context of the global pandemic, we have given ample space to the series of essays "Lockdown & Isolation", to which they contributed: the Lebanese musician Rabih Beaini with a call for solidarity; the British journalist Garth Cartwright talks about the experience of death in quarantine, and in another essay, on how he perceived the first days of quarantine in London; the British artist Lara C Geary analyzes the listening process in quarantine; Romanian curator Anamaria Pravicencu reflects on the tranquility of cities that became deserted during quarantine and her own sound installation from Cismigiu Park in Bucharest; Andrew Choate analyzes the existentialism of Fernando Pessoa found during quarantine; the French researcher and filmmaker Vincent Moon proposes a journey to self-discovery through the expansion of self-awareness and the German journalist Thomas Venker analyzes the different perspectives of the international music scene in the context of the pandemic).

In addition to the essays on "lockdown & isolation" series, we also published some other important contributions: Claudiu Oancea about music collecting and its implications in relation to cultural heritage; Iranian composer Aida Shirazi talking about the ancient Persian poems of Sohrab Sepehri; musician and journalist Maria Balabaș writes about the experience of giving birth to a child for the first time; journalist Garth Cartwright signs an essay on gentrification, starting from the closure of a barber shop in London's Peckham district.
Rebetika
Rebetika

Audio Shows

In the Audio section we find 15 new episodes of our series of shows investigating different music from all over the world, divided into several categories: Destinations (7 episodes), From the Archives (4 episodes) and Composers Corner (4 episodes).

The episodes are: Tallava (music from Albania, Macedonia, presented by Dragoș Rusu, with guests Bram le Cock and Cosmo); Aromanian Vlach Music (music of the Aromanians, co-authored by Victor Plastic and presented by Dragoș Rusu); Romanian contemporary music (part one and part two, presented by Dragoș Rusu, with guest Diana Miron); Romanian jazz (part one and part two, presented by Dragoș Rusu, with guest Mihai Iordache); Rebetika (traditional Greek music, presented by Victor Stutz, with guests Tasos Stamou, Andy Moor, Yannis Kyriakides, Mike Cooper, Viv Corringham and Sam Shalabi); Octavian Nemescu (an audio memoir brought to the Romanian composer, episode of the Composer's Corner series, presented by Dragoș Rusu); Anatol Vieru (an audio memoir brought to the Romanian composer, episode of the Composer's Corner series, presented by Maria Balabaș); Pauline Oliveros (an audio memoir brought to the American composer, episode of the Composer's Corner series, presented by Maria Balabaș); Cumbia (concept by Victor Stutz, presented by Dragoș Rusu); Black Liberation Music (concept by Victor Stutz, presented by Dragoș Rusu); Rural Sounds of Romania (an incursion into the Romanian musical folklore of a century ago, presented by Dragoș Rusu); Egypt (an investigation on mahraganat and Egyptian chaabi, part of the Destinations series); Anton Pann (a modern take on the sounds and music of historical Romania, with guest Constantin Răileanu).
Photo: Patrick Fore
Photo: Patrick Fore
Moreover, in addition to creating original content, the project also brought a number of improvements to the online platform The Attic: improving the display of images, improving fonts, the structure of an article, better connectivity of the online platform with social media tools.

The project was successfully implemented, and the positive feedback received from visitors around the world confirms the necessity of our platform and represents a bridge between Romanian and Eastern cultures in relation to other cultures from all over the world.

The Attic has always been an independent, ad-free, and open access publication. Our goal is to investigate and reveal the socio-cultural and historical context specific to certain geographical areas and time periods, by analyzing and transcending music as an artistic output. Over the past five years of editorial activity, we have managed to create a solid foundation and an expanding network of artists, musicians, composers, curators, promoters, record labels, and cultural platforms.

We would like to thank to all the authors, contributors and collaborators. We are always interested in hearing from new writers. If you’d like to contribute on a freelance basis, please send us your pitch at getintouch@the-attic.net, outlining any particular areas of interest and enclosing some examples of your writing.
About the Author

Dragoș Rusu

Co-founder and co-editor in chief of The Attic and allround music adventurer.

@dragos_rusu_
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